Think about it for a second, we’re surrounded by millions of websites, all clamoring for the spotlight whether it’s for business, branding, or just to get a message heard.
Why does a name like Amazon, Ebay, HuffintonPost, and many others, have such an attachment within our society and mind? Surely you can find just as much great information and deals out there but we always come back to the juggernauts.
My goal with this post is to give you an idea of what it takes to not only snag up a good domain name but one that has lasting power; a domain name that people will immediately associate with what you have to offer.
Big Brands and Understanding Longevity
To me, the big names in the online world are:
- And even AOL.com
Could it be that each of these brands has been around since the early days of the Internet? Not necessarily, especially with the fact that Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube only really took off until around the mid-2000’s; the others were around but still in their growth phase.
Well then, could it be that they’re simply so popular and loaded with traffic that we just immediately assume they’re the lead players in each industry? Again, not really. In the case of YouTube, there was Stage6 which already offered HD videos years before. MySpace, LiveJournal, and other social networks were in full force before Facebook. Even Amazon had competitors.
I know! It’s the advertising and marketing, yeah, that’s it! Hold up, when’s the last time, besides a Kindle ad, that you saw advertising for Amazon? What about Facebook? Ever watch the Super Bowl and see some 30 second spot for Wikipedia? Nope.
Okay, I get it, where you going with this Murray?
The idea that we associate our emotions and trust behind a name even though we really don’t have much clue about the people behind these businesses and websites.
What makes Amazon such a powerful brand is a combination of lucky strikes and innovation. Amazon was able to survive the Internet bubble which basically eliminated most of the major eCommerce competitors. Likewise, it’s been around such a long time that we’ve come to trust what we find on the website despite the fact that most of the products are sold through independent vendors; we place trust in Amazon that we won’t be cheated on a deal as opposed to eBay.
There are also subtle things such as the A to Z item I mentioned; it represents that Amazon has everything … from A to Z. You may not have noticed it but its there. Also, Amazon ships quick, sets the standard for large eCommerce websites, and makes it easy for us to complete the checkout process.
There’s not a moment, when buying on Amazon, that you feel “oh shit, I messed up”.
Each of the names I mentioned in the list has this same experience. There aren’t moments when you feel lost and confused.
But is all of this because of a domain name?
Maybe there is something underneath it all …
Snagging the Perfect Domain Name
Whether you have one or a hundred online projects, the first place you’ll generally start is with the name. Why? Because you want to solidify your idea.
You probably get a lot of advice about creating a business plan before starting but I’ve always found that doing the slog work, such as a business plan, to get in the way of the momentum.
Think about it, did you ever really spend an hour reading the rules of Dodgeball before playing or did you just jump right in?
The domain name can shape your overall plans, too.
When I was kicking around the idea for this website, I had a ton of names to choose from but I finally landed on Murlu. Murlu is just a simple combination of my name, Murray Lunn, but I played with the sound for a few days, how would it sound if people said it? What does it represent? What would you think ‘Murlu’ have as content?
These same struggles are ones that people have when finding your website.
The domain name has a few tasks:
- Explain what a visitor could expect to find
- Describe the brand you represent
- Offer flexibility into new ventures and projects
For a while, you could slap up an exact domain name website and be done with it but what you sacrificed was the long-term potential. Likewise, you could go full-on brand but then need to spend years getting the website found and ranked.
It comes down to this:
- Do you want the quick win?
- Do you want to be there in the future?
Those that answered the first should go ahead and dig into niche marketing; those that opted for the later should continue.
Let’s not be lazy here – we should be viewing our online projects as something we can pass on; something that we can be proud of, something that’s going to, even marginally, become the next Amazon, Facebook, or … whatever.
Get in that mindset for this next phase – think about what people will say about your website, brand, and maybe even business, in the next 5, 10, hell, even 50 years.
For some of you, the name of your business/website will just pop into your head. Maybe it’s what someone said and you were like “yeah, that’s it!” Others, may need the extra push to find that perfect domain. Let’s focus on the later …
There’s no written ‘rule’ of domains but let’s try to set some boundaries:
- Keep it short (maybe a single word, tops)
- Make sure you can pronounce it easily (so people can recall your site)
- Try to avoid double meanings (does your domain translate into something weird?)
- Don’t add hyphens, they suck
- Always go for a .com (because really, when’s the last time you said .net?)
- Look to see if it’s already used but just not online
The first way I would recommend for coming up with the domain is to simply kick around names until it sounds good. Just sit there, typing up domain names over and over and over again. Do it to the point that you’re getting bored with it. Take a break. Come back and keep kicking out the ideas. Eventually, you’ll write something that pops out – something that gets stuck in your head where it sounds great even a week later.
The second would use keyword research tools like the one provided by Google to match up exact keywords. Although, I don’t really recommend exact domain names because they corner your potential to grow – they can still be very good depending on the niche and industry you’re in. For example, something like PizzaHut.com has pizza right in it but there’s that extra ‘hut’ that completes it.
Third, if you’ve already got a business than just go with that but pull out parts that don’t really matter. For example, a buddy and I setup a website for his dads business, the full name was Capillo Salon and Mt. Dora Day Spa but that shit won’t fly in terms of domains so we shortened it to CapilloSalone, easy, right?
Oh, and don’t go all goofy with the country extensions like Gobl.r or Y.uk; these come across as novelty plus people generally misspell them half the time (remember when it was del.icio.us?)
The Domain Registration Process (Without Going Overly Techy)
Okay, tutorial time.
I hope you’ve got to this point and realized what goes into a domain name and some tips on coming up with your own. Now let’s do a quick overview of the process …
Visual Guide in 3 … 2 … 1 …
I’ve been using GoDaddy for years now (I’ve used others like 1&1 too) and generally speaking, they’re extremely easy to work with if you just decline all the extras they want you to buy.
Registrars are there to … register the domain name. All you’re really doing is setting up an account and telling what domain name you want. However, if your domain seems to be taken I’d say to either go back to the drawing board or take a look at a few of their suggestions.
There you have it.
Oh, and one extra tid-bit: you noticed I picked up the domain BinaryInfluence.com, right?
This is an example of what I would say to be one of those “perfect domain names”. There’s a lot going on with the name. Binary, as in code but also represents technology, and influence. Plans for the website? You’ll see but I can say that the mindset going into the name is to explain how to make an impact and influence others, online.
No need for a conclusion, just want you to take action if you’ve been on the fence about setting up your first website or if you’ve got other projects in the pipeline:
- Take about 20 minutes, today, to kick around some domain name ideas
- Send your best ideas to a few of your friends to see what they think, ask your mother what she thinks the name means, figure out how it’ll tie into your overall message
- Go over and pick up the domain name (Use my GoDaddy affiliate link? Thanks!)
- Let it sit for a while or maybe put a coming soon page to start indexing. Why? Let the excitement build with the potential for the domain – you’ll kick up new ideas over the next day or so that you let it sit.
If you want to chat about domains, shoot me an email. For now, I hope you got a lot of info out of this post (or at least inspiration to get a new project up and running).